1991’s Point Break is a guilty pleasure for a lot of film lovers. Keanu Reeves plays an ex college football star/FBI agent, and Patrick Swayze plays a surfer/bank robber. Reeves and Swayze have never been known for their incredible acting, but that duo turned a forgettable action film into a 90’s classic.
In the age of remakes, Point Break is the perfect movie for a remake. You can make better action sequences and use better actors. Making an entertaining Point Break should be a layup for any studio.
Enter director Ericson Core (Invincible) and writer Kurt Wimmer (Salt, Law Abiding Citizen) who are tasked with reprising Point Break. In this version of Point Break, Johnny Utah (Luke Bracey) is an X=Games style motorcyclist who joins the FBI after his friend’s tragic death. Towards the end of his FBI training, Utah is asked to come up with some theories on a case involving an American plane that was robbed of its money over Mexico. The thieves that parachuted out are assumed dead. What’s Utah’s theory? The crime is connected to three other crimes on three different continents. He believes the criminals are extreme athletes trying to complete the “Ozaki Eight” – eight “ordeals” created by environmentalist Ozaki Ono that honor the forces of nature (sort of). The group is using the money from the crimes to follow Ozaki’s teachings. So we can ignore Utah telling the FBI, “They’re using their skills to interrupt the international financial markets.” That’s a lie Johnny Utah, and you know it.
Utah makes his way to France and goes undercover to meet the extreme criminals. He’s brought in by their leader Bohdi (Edgar Ramirez) and is immediately introduced to the crew. Who says you can’t make friends when you’re older? It’s not long (about 20 mins) before Utah fall for Samsara (Teresa Palmer), the only woman in the group, and starts to lose perspective. Utah is caught between turning in his two week old BFF, Bohdi and doing a job he’s trained to do.
We’ve all been there before. You meet a guy at a boat party and you two hit it off. He introduces you to his friends and you fall for the only girl without asking if she’s dating anyone in the group. You and the guy fight it out in an abandoned building and become instant BFFs. After that you travel the world together doing the most extreme sports known to man. You make fires by hand; cut wood, and occasionally attend parties thrown by a rich douchebag. That kind of bond is hard to break.
It wasn’t too far into the movie before you realize it’s missing Busey’s energy as Pappas. The movie doesn’t need to be a shot-for-shot remake, but Busey’s comedic antics were missing. Ray Winstone does his best as Pappas, checks out after the sexy boat party scene. Winstone was more of a grouchy pessimist than crazy sidekick. On the list of things this movie needed, comedy is in the top 5.
They could’ve gotten some comic relief out of Delroy Lindo who plays the same character he played Gone in 60 Seconds. Instead of jokes, Lindo spends the entire movie not understanding “extreme sports” and looking at Utah like a disappointed dad.
And why are Instructor Hall (Delroy Lindo) and an FBI agent in training tracking down the biggest case in the world. Where’s the real FBI?
The trailers would lead one to believe this movie has criminals using their extreme athleticism to pull off impossible crimes. That would be awesome, so of course it’s not in the movie. The film shows the plane heist (that’s in the trailer), the other heist is shown on video (kind of), the rest of the extremeness is Utah and his new buddies on the ultimate X-Games vacation and people saying “Ozaki Eight” as much as possible. The “action” scenes that we do see are detached from the rest of the film and interrupt the pacing of the story. Instead of the scenes being neatly woven into the story, it looks like someone edited an action sports documentary and placed it into the middle of a crime drama. It doesn’t’ help that those sequences are long and boring as well. Unnecessarily long.
In another Point Break movie, Edgar Ramirez would make a great Bohdi. He plays Bohdi as a quiet, focused leader who’s all about giving back what you take. It’s the perfect update for his character. It fits the movie very well, but his performance is drowned out by the pile of garbage surrounding it.
The rest of the characters are useless. Calling them garbage is a bit harsh, but they don’t bring anything to the table. They’re all nameless, faceless people skiing down hills and climbing mountains. Caring what happens to these characters is like caring what happens to a stormtropper after they’re shot by a blaster.
Why doesn’t anyone know Utah is an FBI agent in training? He was a famous Youtube star who joined the bureau after his friend died. Wouldn’t a lot of people know that? “Hey I thought you joined the FBI. Why are you out here surfing?” Not one person? Does Ozaki’s teachings tell you not to go on the internet or read the news?
The final act has one of the most ridiculous endings. It’s equally unbelievable as it is painful to watch. None of what happens makes sense. For all the talk of Ozaki Eight and “giving back”, the movie never explains any of it. They don’t explain Ozaki’s theories. What are Ozaki’s teachings? Why did Utah lie to everyone and say the group was trying to mess up financial markets? They don’t even attempt to explain how Utah is able figure out everything. Does he have some weird extreme sports ESP? Why not cut out one of the skiing scenes and talk about what these ordeals stand for and why the audience should care.
It’s strange to say, but the big thing missing form Point Break is heart. It’s missing characters to care about. Honestly, there isn’t anything in this movie worth caring about besides Ramirez. There’s not nearly enough interesting action. The extreme sports sequences belong on NatGeo, and the characters are flatter than the surfboards they’re riding on.
This was a golden opportunity to take a bad movie and make it better, and somehow they succeeded in making it worse.